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Humanism in Mesopotamia
Editorial note: This is a guest post by Faisal Saeed Al-Mutar, the 20 year old Iraqi founder of the Global Secular Humanist Movement – a forum for the discussion of rational humanism with 42K fans on Facebook.
It started when I was a child and has never stopped since then: the desire to know things and to question.
I am in no sense a gifted person; this desire exists in every child in the world. But what stops many from following their natural curiosity is forceful indoctrination from their parents and/or the society they were born into.
Being born in Iraq was not my choice, and the consequences were tough enough to make any person desperate. But the reason I am writing this article is not to get your sympathy. Rather, I hope to inform you about what is happening in one side of our beautiful planet.
Why would a man in his 20s or 30s behead a 9 year old girl (as I have witnessed with my own eyes) in the middle of street in Baghdad? For money? For reputation?
The answer, in my opinion, is simple: Dogma!
Dogma, ladies and gentlemen, is not a virtue but a disgrace.
Basing his life on ideas with no evidence to support them, having faith in a heaven filled with virgins, is what led this man to kill an innocent child because her parents belonged to a different sect born of the same dogma.
Unfortunate incidents like these, which I wish for no human, made me realize many things: most importantly, that the world needs more compassionate thinkers and skeptics who do good for goodness’ sake, and fewer people who believe they are doing good just because they will get a reward from deities in the afterlife.
I didn’t become a Secular Humanist because of my hatred for organized religion but because I understand them. Secular humanism is not a way of revenge but a way of life that all humanity needs.
As a result of that, I started the “Global Secular Humanist Movement” because I want people from all around the world to celebrate reason and science, make informed choices and celebrate goodness and compassion without expecting supernatural rewards. I want people to attempt to understand the world, appreciate it as it is, and create justice on earth by cooperating with each other here on earth rather than looking up to the skies in expectation of the Apocalypse.
In Humanism, there are NO leaders and NO prophets. YOU are the leader. If you dare to think for yourself , the doors of knowledge are open to you, the secrets of the universe are waiting to be discovered, and the world is waiting to be better understood.
As the late Christopher Hitchens said: “Take the risk of thinking for yourself. Much more happiness, truth, beauty and wisdom will come to you that way."
Author : Faisal Saeed Al Mutar , 20 years old , Born in Iraq – Babylon .
Founder of Global Secular Humanist Movement
Secular Humanist / Skeptic / Writer.
A Mercury-bound spacecraft's noisy flyby of our home planet.
- There is no sound in space, but if there was, this is what it might sound like passing by Earth.
- A spacecraft bound for Mercury recorded data while swinging around our planet, and that data was converted into sound.
- Yes, in space no one can hear you scream, but this is still some chill stuff.
First off, let's be clear what we mean by "hear" here. (Here, here!)
Sound, as we know it, requires air. What our ears capture is actually oscillating waves of fluctuating air pressure. Cilia, fibers in our ears, respond to these fluctuations by firing off corresponding clusters of tones at different pitches to our brains. This is what we perceive as sound.
All of which is to say, sound requires air, and space is notoriously void of that. So, in terms of human-perceivable sound, it's silent out there. Nonetheless, there can be cyclical events in space — such as oscillating values in streams of captured data — that can be mapped to pitches, and thus made audible.
Image source: European Space Agency
The European Space Agency's BepiColombo spacecraft took off from Kourou, French Guyana on October 20, 2019, on its way to Mercury. To reduce its speed for the proper trajectory to Mercury, BepiColombo executed a "gravity-assist flyby," slinging itself around the Earth before leaving home. Over the course of its 34-minute flyby, its two data recorders captured five data sets that Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) enhanced and converted into sound waves.
Into and out of Earth's shadow
In April, BepiColombo began its closest approach to Earth, ranging from 256,393 kilometers (159,315 miles) to 129,488 kilometers (80,460 miles) away. The audio above starts as BepiColombo begins to sneak into the Earth's shadow facing away from the sun.
The data was captured by BepiColombo's Italian Spring Accelerometer (ISA) instrument. Says Carmelo Magnafico of the ISA team, "When the spacecraft enters the shadow and the force of the Sun disappears, we can hear a slight vibration. The solar panels, previously flexed by the Sun, then find a new balance. Upon exiting the shadow, we can hear the effect again."
In addition to making for some cool sounds, the phenomenon allowed the ISA team to confirm just how sensitive their instrument is. "This is an extraordinary situation," says Carmelo. "Since we started the cruise, we have only been in direct sunshine, so we did not have the possibility to check effectively whether our instrument is measuring the variations of the force of the sunlight."
When the craft arrives at Mercury, the ISA will be tasked with studying the planets gravity.
The second clip is derived from data captured by BepiColombo's MPO-MAG magnetometer, AKA MERMAG, as the craft traveled through Earth's magnetosphere, the area surrounding the planet that's determined by the its magnetic field.
BepiColombo eventually entered the hellish mangentosheath, the region battered by cosmic plasma from the sun before the craft passed into the relatively peaceful magentopause that marks the transition between the magnetosphere and Earth's own magnetic field.
MERMAG will map Mercury's magnetosphere, as well as the magnetic state of the planet's interior. As a secondary objective, it will assess the interaction of the solar wind, Mercury's magnetic field, and the planet, analyzing the dynamics of the magnetosphere and its interaction with Mercury.
Recording session over, BepiColombo is now slipping through space silently with its arrival at Mercury planned for 2025.
Water may be far more abundant on the lunar surface than previously thought.
- Scientists have long thought that water exists on the lunar surface, but it wasn't until 2018 that ice was first discovered on the moon.
- A study published Monday used NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy to confirm the presence of molecular water..
- A second study suggests that shadowy regions on the lunar surface may also contain more ice than previously thought.
Credits: NASA/Daniel Rutter<p>Still, it's not as if the moon is dripping wet. The observations suggest that a cubic meter of the lunar surface (in the Clavius crater site, at least) contains water in concentrations of 100 to 412 parts per million. That's roughly equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle of water. In comparison, the same plot of land in the Sahara desert contains about 100 times more water.</p><p>But a second study suggests other parts of the lunar surface also contain water — and potentially lots of it. Also publishing their findings in <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-020-1198-9#_blank" target="_blank">Nature Astronomy</a> on Monday, the researchers used the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to study "cold traps" near the moon's polar regions. These areas of the lunar surface are permanently covered in shadows. In fact, about 0.15 percent of the lunar surface is permanently shadowed, and it's here that water could remain frozen for millions of years.</p><p>Some of these permanently shadowed regions are huge, extending more than a kilometer wide. But others span just 1 cm. These smaller "micro cold traps" are much more abundant than previously thought, and they're spread out across more regions of the lunar surface, according to the new research.</p>
Credit: dottedyeti via AdobeStock<p>Still, the second study didn't confirm that ice is embedded in micro cold traps. But if there is, it would mean that water would be much more accessible to astronauts, considering they wouldn't have to travel into deep, shadowy craters to extract water.</p><p>Greater accessibility to water would not only make it easier for astronauts to get drinking water, but could also enable them to generate rocket fuel and power.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Water is a valuable resource, for both scientific purposes and for use by our explorers," said Jacob Bleacher, chief exploration scientist in the advanced exploration systems division for NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, in a statement. "If we can use the resources at the Moon, then we can carry less water and more equipment to help enable new scientific discoveries."</p>